Why Science Needs Faith

Written by Claire Colvin

Are science and faith like oil and water? Some people seem to think so. We like to think that science is full of absolutes – that things are or are not.  There’s a saying that “reality is anything you can hit with a hammer” but that’s not true either.  There are all sorts of things that exist that your hammer would never be able to hit.

Science, for all it’s formulas and exactness does require a certain amount of faith. Often, given enough time science disproves itself.  There was a time when all rational people agreed that the world was flat, that the sun revolved around the earth, that HIV AIDS would always kill you in seven years or less.  Greater study, better equipment, further research disproves the earlier idea and we accept the new, even though we know that it may change again.

In 2007 a fascinating book of essays came out called What We Believe But Cannot Prove: Today’s Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Certainty.    In the book scientists from all different areas talk about the science that they have to take on faith.  It’s an interesting read.

In his article, “Science & Religion: Competitors or Companions?” Darren Hewer writes:

Are “all thinking men” really atheists as Hemingway asserted? If so, it would seem that religion and science would indeed be enemies.  However, history does not give us much support for this idea. Besides Sir Isaac Newton, many other great scientists have simultaneously held deep religious convictions, such as Johannes Kepler, Blaise Pascal, and Louis Pasteur.

Religion includes not just abstract intellectual facts but also issues of the heart, of intimacy, and meaning, and destiny. This may be one of the reasons that religion can unfortunately become so contentious: It requires submitting all of our mental faculties to be truly understood.

No wonder both science and religion capture our imaginations. Do you think faith and science can ever be in harmony? What do you believe?

If you want to take a look at what Christians believe try our free life lesson Knowing Jesus Personally.  You’ll be matched with a coach who will walk with you as you learn.

10 Responses to “Why Science Needs Faith”

  • Elkay says:

    A mistake I think we sometimes make that gets us into a conundrum is to ask, “Science or religion?” rather than saying “Science and religion”. Both have their rightful place and both are to be respected. Science is very good at what it does and is getting better. Religion, obviously not all, is very good at what it does and is getting better (Just to name two, consider N. T. Wright and Tim Keller among many other Christian “moderns” and the many merciful worldwide missions.)

    Science is a work of mankind, captured in words. The Christian religion is a work of God, captured in the Word of God. God has alerted us: His ways and thoughts are not like ours and furthermore, they are higher than ours, higher than the heavens are from the earth (Isa 55:8-9).

    I am not sure we should expect to find complete harmony between the Word of God and words of mankind in this age . . . but in the age to come, “when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 Jn 3:2) and maybe then, it will indeed be science and religion because He is the Author of both.

    Obviously I am speaking as a Christian . . . but if it makes a difference, I am also a physicist.

  • Alfred says:

    I believe the Bible, though not a book of science, agrees with science. I found it interesting that using geometry & math, a perfect hexagon was developed. It differed slightly from the hexagon that the honey-bee produces; so as the two were compared, it was found that the honey-bee makes a stronger & better hexagon than what we humans developed! We may come close, but God’s design is superior!!!
    Look for “Creation Ministries International” at http://www.CreationOnTheWeb.com. It’s a very interesting web-site. Have fun learning the truth.

  • Elkay says:

    Two more comments:

    In the Answers in Genesis article on Isaac Newton, one can find Newton’s conclusion: This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being. … This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion He is wont to be called “Lord God” or “Universal Ruler”. … The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect.’ (taken from Principia, Book III; cited in; Newton’s Philosophy of Nature: Selections from his writings, p. 42, ed. H.S. Thayer, Hafner Library of Classics, NY, 1953.)

    Please visit an extremely convincing webpage (http://htwins.net/scale2/?bordercolor=white) that allows one to zoom in-and-out on the Scale of the Universe from a Plank Length (10 to – 35th) to the Deep Hubble Field (10 to + 26th). Newton was right.

    And yes, following one’s heart is folly compared to following the Spirit, for, “If the Spirit of God is leading you, then take comfort in knowing you are His children.” (Voice)

  • Lookingup says:

    Two comments to this article.

    One, on Isaak Newton, he did have religious convictions.

    The other is on Celsa’s comment “At all times follow your heart”. Scripture tells us in Jer. 17:9 that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Therefore isf this is true and all of scripture is true, it would then be far more valuable to follow scripture rather than your heart.

    Blessings. LU

  • “The mechanics of the universe can be fully explained scientifically, there is no room for other ideas which could in turn disrupt the progression of the human race.”

    I wonder, can you prove this assertion scientifically? Or to reword it slightly, which scientific test proves that science is the only legitimate way to know truth? There is in fact no such test.

    I do agree that science is the best way to explain the mechanics of the universe though. That’s what the method is designed to do: To describe how mechanical phenomena work. It is, IMHO, insufficient to use science alone to investigate metaphysics … ie, matters which, by definition, are beyond the sole purview of science (meta=beyond, physics=phyiscal world). Investigating religion requires philosophical, historical-critical, and experiential methods in addition to the scientific. As suggested in the full article linked by this post, religion is a multifaceted discipline, and while true religion never contradicts science, it is the case that science alone is insufficient for truly evaluating it.

    If you are content with believing that this life is ultimately meaningless, that your sister or brother is really no different than an ant, and that death renders our lives objectively futile, then you can stop searching. But if not, it seems worthwhile to continue to search, using all valid methods of inquiry, to discover whether maybe God has been at work in your life all along … it could be that you just never noticed before, because rather than using the full gamut of your epistemological tools, you’ve been relying on only one of many such tools to explain life.

    I hope you’ll keep searching! And also that you will discover purpose in your life.

  • Claire Colvin Claire says:

    The mechanics of the universe can be fully explained scientifically really? Because last I heard the leading minds of our age still can’t quite agree on string theory.

  • Diabolicus Advocatus says:

    Science is complete rationalle. The mechanics of the universe can be fully explained scientifically, there is no room for other ideas which could in turn distrupt the progression of the human race. Love, emotions, all these things are completely chemical inside your brain, most people lack the understanding to actually believe in it. When you die, you are going to succumb to an eternal black nothingness, and decompose in the dirt. What makes you think that you are so significant as an entity to be able to live in a place with everything you love, with unlimited space and happiness for the rest of eternity? It is unrealistic. You’re just an animal, like an ant, and the only thing that distiguises you from a rock is the fact that you made of a carbon based molecular configuration.GOOOOODDDD!!!!

  • halbcust says:

    After watching several debates on this subject it was interesting to hear that scientists now believe they have the answer to your question “slowly recovering” When you ask where did the atoms and molecules come from in the first place? They (the scientists) are telling us that they all came from nothing.
    That’s right nothing and when pressed as to how something could come from nothing they say that it was caused by gravity.
    I am not a scientist but from my understanding does there not have to be something in order for there to be gravity?
    This is where I find this articles title so appropriate, because for me I just don’t have enough faith to believe that everything came from nothing.

  • Slowly recovering (formally Ruined) says:

    Saw this documentary on the same subject. It is an interesting subject to say the least. I went with the scientists that admitted that most answer raises more questions. There was one biologist who was so fascinated with the beauty of things (even microbes) that he was convinced there had to be a God.
    I go with that.
    People might be able to manipulate live with genetics but they will never be able to CREATE life from scratch. Even when they do manage to put atoms and molecules together into some kind of primitive live form than the question becomes Who created those atoms and molecules in the first place?

    Science is a double edged sword, it gave us antibiotics, cures for many other diseases, light, electrics, the internet e.t.c. It also gave us Weapons of mass destruction.

  • Cat says:

    Well, I think science is the best tool we have for understanding the physical world, and when science’s claims about the physical world conflict with religion, science carries the day. But science doesn’t tell us what stuff MEANS, or what the good is; that’s for us to decide, and that’s where I think religion’s claims can be useful.

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